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In the section of a questionnaire about smoking, the options are
吸ったことがない
以前吸っていた
現在、吸っている

Then, under this last option, it says:

※現在、吸っているとは「合計100本以上、または6ヶ月以上吸っている方」であり、最近1ヶ月間も吸っている方を指します

To me, this sentence looks like it says

“I currently smoke” is defined as smoking a total of 100 cigarettes or having been smoking for over 6 months, the most recent time of which was within the past month.

But I don't get how this definition could work without defining a minimum number of cigarettes smoked in those "6 months."

In English I think it is too vague to be a working definition. Does this definition work in Japanese?
日本語で定義として成り立っているなら、なぜ成り立つか聞きたいです。
よろしくお願いします。

  • Is it a language or a math question? If you smoked 3 times a week for a year, you smoked 78 cigarettes in the last 6 months, but as the definition specified 6ヶ月以上, you must check the option. If you started smoking 3 months ago, but smoke twice a day, you have smoked for less than 6 months, but 合計100本以上, so you must check. Otherwise - not. – macraf Feb 15 at 10:53
  • @macraf But yet if you smoke those same 78 cigarettes within the last 5 months, you are not "currently smoking?" Odd, don't you think? – By137 Feb 15 at 14:44
  • Yes, that's what it says. Someone adopted such criteria and clearly specified them. I see nothing odd about it. Especially from the language point of view. – macraf Feb 15 at 15:17
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You understand the Japanese text correctly, and you're right in that there is certain ambiguity (like, does someone who has been smoking once a month for the past 10 months really count?). But the sentence works as it is. (If I were in charge, I might slightly change the wording, though...)

The key observation here is that this health check question is meant for stratify the questionees according to the risks and help to interpret the results: the true question is "Are you [your health] under the influence of smoking?". As such, they exclude those who are barely (sort of) smoking, an arbitrary and rough criteria of which is less than 100 cigarettes AND less than 6 months. So if I started smoking 2.5 months ago and this is the 95th cigarettes I smoke today, I should probably think twice before I check "No". Same goes for the population who smoke longer than 6 months but the consumption is (from a commonsense view) very low. You think twice, check the choice which you feel more suitable, and if you have a chance, tell your situation to the doctor directly.

Another point is that smoking, when asking about your habits, implies smoking regularly. This sets certain lower bounds implied to the number of cigarettes consumed when one think of themselves as "smoking for more then 6 months".

Additionally, I feel that there are much less percentage of smokers who smokes only occasionally than social drinkers are in drinkers (the choices for your drinking habits usually has 機会飲酒, roughly social drinking). Therefore the number of edge-cases here is, if I may guess, epidemiologically small.

I think it being written in another language than your native one brought you unnecessary suspicion. You can be confident in your skill: the question indeed leaves some space for interpretation, which does not spoil the value of the question practically.

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、最近1ヶ月間も吸っている方を指します

, the most recent time of which was within the past month.

There is no "of which" in the original Japanese text. It only says that "the most recent time you smoked is with the past month.

So to be "currently smoking", you must meet either of the two condition, without a time limit, and you smoked the last time with the past month.

And, by "having been smoking for at least 6 months", I think it should mean "having been smoking for at least 6 months regularly". It does require a minimum number of cigarettes, as long as you smoke regularly.

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